#AskWhisky Q&A with expert Charles Maclean – Part Two

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Titan WordPress ThemeSo, you had your first taster of the #AskWhisky Q&A on Friday afternoon with whisky expert Charles Maclean. We’re back today to bring you Part Two! We had such a great response on Twitter and Facebook, and from Charles himself, that we just had to share some more questions and answers. If you missed it last Friday, check out Part One of our #AskWhisky interview.

World-renowned expert Charles is full of interesting insight into the world of whisky; see if he answered your question below.

Question: If an opened bottle of whisky is kept for years, will the whisky flavour change as it is exposed to air? (Ian Sommerville @IanSommerville)
Charles Maclean: Yes. It begins to change as soon as the liquid is exposed to air, and the larger the ‘head-space’ – the gap between the liquid level and the top of the bottle – the more rapid will be the change. The rapidity of the change depends on the individual whisky and its strength, but I would say when the level is half the bottle it should be drunk within six months; if down to a quarter, within a month. Follow the old Scots custom of ‘throwing the cork on the fire’ and drinking the whole bottle with friends!

Q: Why is it mainly USED (bourbon) casks and not new ones? (Jens Schaefer – Facebook)
CM: If brand new American oak casks are used, the whisky comes out tasting a bit like bourbon – much influenced by flavours coming from the wood.The first incumbent – bourbon or sherry – seasons the wood and draws out some of its harsher characteristics.

Q: What is the best whisky producing region in Scotland? (The ScotPulse team @ScotPulse)
CM: There ain’t one! Every region produces splendid whiskies. Speyside is the largest, however, with around two-thirds of malt distilleries. This is because the style of whisky is most popular with blenders.The truth is that any distillery can produce a sublime whisky and any can produce a poor one. It all depends upon maturation.

Q: What distilleries did there used to be in the ancient county of Angus? (Iain Stirling @iainastirling)
CM: They used to be called the ‘Forfarshire malts’: Brechin, Glencadam, North Port (all in Brechin). Glencadam is still in production. There will have been many more early stills, some of them licensed for a short time (see The Scotch Whisky Industry Review by Charles Craig for more information).

Q: Why is the island of Islay blessed with so many distilleries? (Karen W @KazW8a)
CM: Initially because the owners of the island encouraged their tenants to take out licences, and supported them generally. Latterly because the traditional smoky style was useful in blends and today, because this style is very popular in single malts.

Q: Can Scotch be made outside of Scotland, e.g. Suntory’s The Yamazaki? (David Mccafferty – Facebook)
CM: No. Whisky can, but not Scotch whisky.

That’s all folks! Thank you for all the questions posted on our social channels and to Charles for taking the time to take part.

Although you may not always have a whisky expert on hand, there’s still lots of opportunities to find out more about Scotch whisky. There are just too many to list, whether it be at a festival, on a behind the scenes tour of a distillery or even while enjoying a dram and good company at a whisky bar*.

May is Whisky Month here in Scotland, so there are lots of different events and festivals to attend and experience. Why not share photos of your whisky experiences using the hashtags #whiskymonth and #brilliantmoments. We would love to see them! You can also find us on all the usual social channels, including Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Google+.

Glenfiddich

*Find out more information on how to drink responsibly.

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David Walsh

David is a Content Editor at VisitScotland. You'll most likely find him vagabonding around Scotland with a camera in hand; that or a dram of the finest single malt.